Sunday, December 26, 2010

Goodnight, Lovergirl

R.I.P. Teena Marie, R&B Soul Songstress

And something a little more recent...

Sexy Time

My dear buddy Jimmy Palmiotti let me take over his Sexy Monday column this week. Check it out right here. And enjoy the outtake below.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Top 20 Albums of 2010 & Then Some

I totally missed the memo about Agalloch*. And Watain. Instead, I spent my year fixating on ragged gentlemen with vampire obsessions (#2 & #3), a hearty batch of comeback kids (#1, #4, #10), and one incredible guilty pleasure (#10). Without any further adieu, here are my Top 20 Albums of 2010 & Then Some.

[Important addendum HERE.]

*For the record, I don't dislike Agalloch. They just take too long getting to the point.

1. Deftones - Diamond Eyes 
Who would've thought the Deftones, now 20 years into their career, would create my favorite album of 2010? Yet Diamond Eyes is as perfectly familiar as it is tempered and refined. The album reels you in with the velvet fluidity of the eponymous track before moving onto "CMND/CTRL," a song as gritty as anything on Around the Fur. From there, songs like "Sextape" and "976-Evil" soothe the ear, while "Rocket Skates" and "Royal" sting with ferocity. Start to finish, this is it.


2. Dax Riggs - Say Goodnight to the World
On Say Goodnight to the World, the Louisiana native continues to perfect the art of deconstructing slow, bluesy rock tracks and enriching them with his take on Southern Gothic lore. Sultry, lo-fi numbers like "I Hear Satan," "Like Moonlight," plus his rapturous cover of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" resonate with dark sex appeal. Meanwhile, rockers "Let Me Be Your Cigarette" and "Gravedirt on My Blue Suede Shoes" inspire a strut even Lestat would be proud of.
3. Grinderman - Grinderman 2
As if the idea of a stripped-down incarnation of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds wasn't appealing enough, try throwing in some of Cave's most raw & cheeky stream-of-consciousness narratives to date. Sound tempting? Just wait until "Worm Tamer" kicks in and carries you away with its cinematic grandeur. You won't come down 'til the final notes of Grinderman 2's most elevated number, "Palaces of Montezuma," subside.

4. Ratt - Infestation
Somehow, despite years of animosity following their acrimonious split, Ratt regrouped and captured lightning in a bottle once more with Infestation. And though the harmony may have been short lived, the album remains a welcome addition to their bluesy LA glam rock canon. Superbly sleazy tracks like "Eat Me Alive," "Garden of Eden" and "Lost Weekend" almost negate any unpleasant "Way Cool Jr." aftertaste we may have from the first go around.

5. Integrity - The Blackest Curse
Still as misanthropic as ever, Integrity remains one of the most controversial, polarizing American hardcore bands around. Mastermind Dwid Hellion delivers his dark visions via guttural screams that are set to monstrous, under-produced chugging riffs, paced masterfully for crucial breakdowns. Shades of Haunting the Chapel-era Slayer in the guitar playing only heightens Integrity's already-harrowing sound, particularly on "Through the Shades of Forever" and "Secret Schadenfreude."

6. Black Keys - Brothers
Having built their career on gritty Delta Blues and fuzzy riffs, the most striking thing about the Black Keys' sixth album, Brothers, is just how accessible and poppy it is. There are still plenty of soulful moments to be found, including personal favorite "Next Girl," and the crowd pleaser "Howlin For You." Stompers like "Black Mud" and "Tighten Up" only cement the fact that the Black Keys have truly found their groove.
7. Demon Hunter - The World is a Thorn
I've always had a soft spot for Demon Hunter. The Seattle-based Christian metalcore act have consistently managed to create gloriously heavy music, with plenty of smart electronic flourishes and textured harmonies to keep things interesting. And this album is no different. Infused with new energy after a significant lineup change, The World is a Thorn might be their best work since 2004's Summer of Darkness.

8. Black Mountain - Wilderness Kingdom  
Decidedly more mellow than 2008's In the Future, Black Mountain's latest offering still embodies everything I love about the Canadian psychedelic rockers. The entwined vocals of Amber Webber and Stephen McBean remain, as do the band's trademark grooves and symphonic harmonies; and their Sabbath influence continues to shine on songs like "Let Spirits Ride."

9. Girl Talk -  All Day
While I do admit to having some issues with obvious song choices (both "Single Ladies" and Fugazi's "Waiting Room," really?), All Day is still endearing in so many ways. How can you eff up something that starts off with Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" and manages to work Dorrough's "Ice Cream Paint Job" into the opening track? And while there were certainly ebbs and flows of interesting moments, Gregg Gillis's latest remains a whimsical musical capture for X- and Y-gen'ers.

10. Lil Jon - Crunk Rock
At this point, it's not even accurate to refer to Lil Jon as a rapper. Why bother writing verses when you've developed the leading formula for crunk hits? Balancing Euro-baiting thumping beats, convoluted chants about drinking, dancing and pussy popping, plus random guest appearances by the likes of R. Kelly, Ice Cube and Ying Yang Twins, Lil Jon created a whimsical dance album that's impossible not to shake your ass to. Once you check your brain at the door, that is. Fuck lyrics, get paid.

11. Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
12. Karma to Burn - Appalachian Incantation 
13. The Bled - Heat Fetish
14. Sade - Soldier of Love 
15. Intronaut - Valley of Smoke
16. Envy - Recitation
17. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
18. Torche - Songs for Singles
19. Off! - The First Four EPs
20. Mark Ronson & The Business Intl - Record Collection
    Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
    Early Graves - Goner
    Daughters - s/t
    The Sword - Warp Riders
    Miniature Tigers - Fortress
    Monster Magnet - Mastermind
    High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine
    Coliseum - House With a Curse
    Murder Construct - s/t EP 
    Death Angel - Relentless Retribution
    My Chemical Romance - Danger Days
    The Binary Code - Priest EP
    Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder 
    Various Artists - Metal Swim  (Adult Swim compilation)
    Brett Detar - Bird in a Tangle 
    Cee Lo Green - The Lady Killer
    Chiodos - Illuminaudio
    Black Cruel Dove - The Myth and the Sum EP
    Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song
    Murder by Death - Good Morning, Magpie

    H.I.M. - Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, Chapters 1-13
    Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Mettle Pt II
    Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat the Devil's Tattoo
    Yeasayer - Odd Blood 
    Christina Aguilera - Bionic

    Never Got Around to Listening To... (Yet):
    Sleigh Bells - Treats
    The Body - All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood
    Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    Interpol - s/t
    Dungen - Skit I Allt

    Please, PJ, Don't Hurt 'Em
    What are you doing, lady?

    Written On The Forehead by pjharvey

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Tommy Lee's PETA Letter to SeaWorld

    Am I the only one offended by Tommy Lee's choice of the font Papyrus? So 1995. I am glad, however, that he remembered the umlauts in Motley Crue because proper branding and consistency are important. Drummers can be so dumb.

    Click on the letter to read it in full size.

    P.S.: I read The Dirt. You've totally done sicker shit.

    Courtesy of

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Five Not-So-Metal Holiday Gifts

    Like it or not, we're surrounded by the holidays. Beyond the insipid music and under-tipping anxiety, there's also the bombardment of ads for all forms of shlocky gifts. We're not even safe from the metal bands we know and love. Here's proof.

    Slayer Christmas Ornament
    One can only imagine that any tr00 fan would smash this ornament in half and carve Slayer's name into their forearm. Almost as good as the Human Centipede Christmas ornament.

    High on Fire Hot Sauce
     So this is what Matt Pike has been putting in that belly of his. Get your bottle right here.

    Mastodon Remission Switchblade Comb
    No doubt inspired by the beardos of Atlanta, this classy comb was surely meant as a stocking stuffer for their fine facial hair. Bonus: there's also a "Hail Santa" T-shirt. #srsly

    Metallica Sweat Socks
    Perfect for sweating to the oldies. And they'd look smashing with some coordinating ...And Justice For All lounge pants.

    Merry. Effing. Christmas.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    My Top 10 Concerts of 2010

    It was easy to rattle off my top four shows of 2010, but after that it became a real struggle to sort out which live experiences were so satisfyingly exalting that they left an indelible impression. Plus all these concerts had last year's bounty (NIN, Jesus Lizard, St. Vitus), and SxSW '09 to compete with.

    And it wasn't due to lack of attendance, either. It pains me to say it, but Iron Maiden's set list on the "Final Frontier" tour left a lot to be desired. I made it to the first Faith No More show at the Williamsburg waterfront, but they were never a band I was particularly infatuated with. Seeing them was cool, but there were no transcendent moments (sorry, Elise). I still find myself wondering if I'd be able to hear them on my side of the river at Styuvesant Cove Park while sitting on a bench with a 40.

    But there were still some incredible highlights this year that included my virginal pilgrimage to the ATP NY Fest, plus the access I've had to dozens of eclectic artists when they played the P.C. Richard & Son Theater for my day job. I can now officially say I've seen the Doobie Brothers.

    With that, here are my selections for Top 10 Shows of 2010, in order.

    [Also, read this important addendum about Prince at MSG.]

    Iggy & the Stooges
    Iggy & The Stooges / Sleep @ ATP NY
    It would have pleased me enough to simply watch Iggy Pop, Mike Watt & the Stooges perform all of Raw Power during an energetic set in an amazing-sounding room. But then I got to see (and literally FEEL) Sleep play for more than two hours immediately afterward. Throw in the wonderment of a nearby saucer-eyed concertgoer with a penchant for throwing out glow sticks, plus a cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Over the Mountain" into the mix, and you suddenly have my vote for concert experience of the year. 

    Explosions in the Sky
    Altar + the Rest of ATP NY
    By far, the most eclectic, well-curated, greatest vibes-having festivals must be put on by All Tomorrows Parties, and my inaugural experience at this year's Catstkills gathering will surely not be my last. Where else could I see members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ron Jeremy and the body-punishing Altar ritual all within an hour? Other bands I got to see included Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Dungen, White Hills, Shellac, the Breeders, Hope Sandoval, Fucked Up, T Model Ford, Explosions in the Sky (above) plus several others. I'll be back next year, Monticello.

    Concrete Blonde
    Concrete Blonde @ Webster Hall
    Who knew Concrete Blonde were so good? Who knew Johnette Napolitano would still be so hot in her 50s? Who knew they were so lesbian-centric? Originally, I bought a ticket to watch CB perform Bloodletting in its entirety, the only album I really knew inside out (the only other album I had in my teens was Mexican Moon), but when I came home from the show, impressed with both Napolitano's well-preserved voice, and how she used it to belt out everything from "Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man" to "Heal It Up" to "Tomorrow, Wendy," I bought the whole damn discography.

    Dax Riggs @ Mercury Lounge
    Dax Riggs @ Mercury Lounge
    The hypnotic Southern vampire charms of Dax Riggs have been discussed a great deal in the press. But really, it's all about the way he's able to transform simply-structured songs into smoldering, sinuous pantie droppers. To see him live is to want to throw 'em at him and his pillowy lips. Meow.

    Nick Cave, Grinderman
    Grinderman @ Best Buy Theater
    Though I was sadly too sick to really enjoy the raw, sonic nature of Grinderman's NY show, I quickly noted that having Nick Cave sing into my face would have to be on my ultimate bucket list. And with multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis in on the act—and almost upstaging Cave—this was one show I'm glad I didn't miss.

    Eyehategod @ Europa
    Eyehategod @ Europa
    One of the band's best, highest energy sets in recent years. This affair only seemed to get better with every round of whiskey. Bower Power 4 life.

    Weedeater @ The Studio/Webster Hall
    This show was one of those oddly exalted affairs that was as surreal as it was vaulting, and filled with great vibes. Weedeater put on a thunderous set filled with sludgy Southern-fried metal, during which bandleader Dixie Dave took liberal sips from a bottle of 'Tussin that he taped to the stage wall. Boy, did those people in the house for Webster Hall's concurrent '80s Prom party seem confused when they walked in to catch a glipse.

    Russian Circles
    Boris / Torche / Russian Circles @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
    It was loud. Very, very loud. This Blackened Series concert found the perfect formula for curating bands. Russian Circles' trance-inducing instrumental set showcased a band on the verge; now in their prime, Torche proved they were worth all the attention they were getting with Songs for Singles; and Boris played with the confidence of a well-seasoned act. Well done, Adam Shore.

    Duffy @ P.C. Richard & Son Theater
    Through my day job, I get to see a lot of artists play tiny, intimate shows at this private venue. During the past year, I've witnessed everyone from Adam Lambert to Robyn to Heart live. I even caught Selena Gomez ripping into Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" before warping it into Jason Derulo's "In My Head" during sound check. But by far, my favorite time was watching little Welsh singer Duffy (she of "Mercy" fame) perform with a 15-piece band that included horns, string sections and synchronized hand-clapping all the while she crooned away in her Dusty Springfield-esque voice.

    Bad Religion @ Irving Plaza, NYC
    Bad Religion @ Irving Plaza
    This was the first performance of Bad Religion's three-night stand on a 30th Anniversary tour that promised to span their entire career. And it fucking did. Not only did BR reach back to their infancy, but they also covered all the hits from "Do What You Want," "Suffer," "Along the Way" and "I Want to Conquer the World" to "Latchkey Kids," "We're Only Gonna Die" and "No Control." Anyone unhappy with the set list can suck it.

    5 Shows I Enjoyed Completely Unironically:
    Ratt @ Irving Plaza
    Pat Benatar @ Nokia Theater
    Vampires Everywhere @ The Studio/Webster Hall (ok, maybe a little ironically)
    Lil' Kim @ Irving Plaza
    Death Angel @ Gramercy Theater

    And the Rest:
    Bucket List Check-Off - Greg Dulli @ Bowery Ballroom; ZZ Top @ Beacon Theater
    Weakest Performance - Entombed @ Gramercy Theater
    Best Redemption - Social Distortion @ Roseland
    Why Was I There? - Fintroll / Moonsorrow @ Gramercy Theater
    Falling Out of Love is Such Sweet Sorrow - H.I.M. @ Irving Plaza x2!
    Can't Believe It - I haven't seen Clutch once this year. Feels weird.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    American Hardcore

    When Steve Blush's acclaimed book American Hardcore: A Tribal History was first published in 2001, no one could have imagined the minute subdivisions in music and subsequent bastardization of the genre's suffix that were to come. (I mean, really, crabcore?) The oral history recounts days of raw punk rock created as a response to the bleak world view of the Reagan years, not an era of vapid self-absorption and auto-tune apps. Which is why the tome's new second edition—replete with 80 pages of new material—couldn't have come at a better time.

    Chronicling the '80s punk scenes in NY, LA, DC, Boston and beyond, the narratives of the bold-faced names who lived through it all are quilted together so methodically by Blush, you can almost feel the boot kick to the chin as you read them. Several anecdotes from grandfathers Biafra, MacKaye, Graffin, Danzig and Rollins are included, as well as juicy nuggets from countless other name-check worthy scenesters. From the early days of SST Records to CBGBs legendary matinees, the chapters lay bare rivalries, drug abuse, infighting and all the other rituals native to these collective tribes.

    Along with the new edition of American Hardcore, a Web site for the book has been launched with a pretty cool feature—24 Hours of Hardcore—essentially a giant compilation of streamable songs from virtually every punk band that came out before 1987. From 100 Flowers to Zero Defex, all 911 songs are there. Go get them. And while you're on the site, get info on Blush's promotion tour dates that include a stop at NYC's Strand bookstore on December 15 featuring a panel discussion with Dave Smalley and Laura Albert (JT Leroy).

    And if you're feeling even more literate and belligerent, seek out .45 Dangerous Minds, a collection of articles from Steve Blush's and George Petros's legendary Q&A-only music magazine, Seconds. A huge inspiration during my early fanzine-obsessed years, the guys weren't afraid to ask brutally frank questions to get often shockingly revealing answers from controversial figures like David Bowie, Anton LaVey, Buddy Miles, Rob't Williams, Wino, James Earl Ray, Rahowa, the Factory Family, Varg Vikernes and many others.

    Simply put, buy these books.

    And with that, here are some "D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S." from a band that would surely make American History, Pt. 3.

    Play us out, Modern Life is War!